House-made Marinara

August 8, 2012

Looking for something to do with all those tomatoes? You definitely should make a big batch of this sauce. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most flavorful. I’ve made this sauce for years, and it always amazes me how delicious a bowl of noodles drenched in tomato sauce can really taste.

Look at that rich red color! The flavor is even richer. This marinara sauce is ideal for freezing and eating on a cold winter night. So you should double or triple the recipe.

from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup minced onion
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 lbs fresh tomatoes- peeled, seeded, & pureed (4 cups of puree) OR
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes (3.5 cups puree)
1 large basil stem, leaves removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
baking soda or sugar, if needed


To make the tomato puree, first quarter the tomatoes. Then, peel and seed the tomatoes. 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes makes about 4 cups of puree. Place peeled and seeded tomatoes in a food processor and puree.

Heat the olive oil in a ceramic pot over moderate heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent- about 8 minutes. Add the parsley and garlic. Cook briefly to release their fragrance. Add the tomato puree, basil and salt. Simmer briskly until reduced to a saucelike consistency. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom. The timing will depend on the ripeness and meatiness of your tomatoes and size of your pot. Anywhere from 30 minutes- 2 hours. If the sauce thickens too much before the flavor develops, add a little water and continue to cook.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. I always add a good amount of salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add a pinch of baking soda and cook for 5 more minutes. If it needs a touch of sweetness, add the sugar, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove basil stem before serving.

Makes 2-2 ½ cups. This freezes very well so double or triple the recipe when tomatoes are plentiful.

Here is a printable recipe-Marinara Sauce


Lemon Pasta with Veggies

March 28, 2012

It stresses me out to have fresh veggies spoiling in the fridge. I tend to get excited and buy too much produce for two people. In an attempt to cook up good lookin veggies before they turned bad, I created this wonderful pasta dish. It can be so fun to create dinner without a recipe! It’s almost like Chopped on the Food Network but without the weird foods.


½ pound angel hair pasta
olive oil
10 small purple potatoes
1 bag of spinach
1 clove garlic
1 bag rainbow carrots
2 lemons
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken stock OR
2 teaspoons Better than Bullion + water
salt and pepper

1. Begin by boiling potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes or until tender. Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. Add the carrots to the boiling pasta during the last 5-6 minutes of cooking.

2. Meanwhile, sauté spinach with a little olive oil until just wilted. Remove form the sauté pan and set aside.

3. Heat sauté pan to high. Once the potatoes have cooked, cut in half and cook cut side down in butter or olive oil. Sauté until browned. Remove from pan and set aside with the spinach.

4. Create a sauce in the same pan by adding the juice of 2 lemons, chicken stock and heavy cream. Add water (or pasta water) if needed. Simmer for a few minutes to reduce slightly. Taste for salt and pepper needs. The sauce should be flavorful and will not be too thick.

5. Add drained pasta and carrots, potatoes and spinach into the sauté pan. Toss until the noodles and veggies are coated. Serve warm and enjoy!

Here is a printable copy of the recipe: Lemon Pasta with Veggies.

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Decadent Date Food

February 10, 2012

This recipe is long over-due to appear on the blog. It is WAY too good to keep to myself. The rich pasta dish is such a hit with the men, and I promise your Valentine will love it. Because it is so rich I would suggest serving with something green like asparagus. Or it would be awesome to add asparagus right to the dish!

from my mom

You Will Need:
1 lemon
¼ cup flour
1 tsp season salt
1-½ lbs chicken tenderloins
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
8 oz. penne or rigatoni pasta
2 Tablespoons capers
2 teaspoons chicken base
½ cup white wine
¼ cup heavy whipping

Place four and salt in a large zip lock bag. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and add to bag. Shake well. Wash Hands. Heat butter, olive oil and garlic in a sauté pan. Add chicken and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Cook pasta as directed. Stir capers and chicken base in to chicken and cook additional 2 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice into chicken. Stir in wine and cream. Reduce heat to low and cook 3-4 minutes.
Drain pasta and stir into chicken mixture.

Check back this weekend for the perfect Valentines DIY project.



March 14, 2011

This time last year the brisket was brining in preparation for a corned beef feast. Unlike the hot pickled brisket, this pasta dish is very un-Irish. In fact, everything about it is different. It’s cold, healthy, simple and summery. But it’s green! Orzo with spinach, pine nuts, lemon and feta is ideal for a packed weekday lunch.

adapted from A Season to Savor

You Will Need:
1/2 pound orzo
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon- zest and juice
1 (10-ounce) package of baby spinach, julienned*
1 cup (or more) feta, crumbled
1/2 (or more) pine nuts, toasted*

Cook the orzo according to package.
Whisk together lemon juice, zest and olive oil.
Pour hot pasta into lemon/oil dressing.
Toss together so the hot pasta absorbs the lemony sauce.
Let pasta cool to room temperature.
Mix in spinach, feta and pine nuts.
Serve cold or room temperature.

*To Julienned is a knife technique used to make long ribbons of a vegetable. Roll a small bunch of the spinach lengthwise. Cut across the roll (short ways) to create the ribbons.
*Pine nuts- Add just before serving to keep them from becoming soggy. Also, buy already toasted pine nuts at Trader Joes or saute them in a dry saute pan over medium heat until the become golden brown.


Pink Princess Sauce

October 2, 2010

With roasted red peppers on hand, this is an easy but decadent pasta dish for a weeknight meal. I have made it twice in the past week. It might become an addiction. The pasta dish was cleverly called “Pink Princess Sauce” to lure little girls to eat it. I will post soon about another variation of Pink Princess Sauce using tomatoes instead of red peppers.


You will need:
3 whole red bell peppers
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
flat leaf parsley, chopped
Parmesan, shaved or grated
1/2 pound rigatoni or pappardelle pasta
coarse salt and pepper
Roast Peppers (see previous post).
Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet (or buy toasted pine nuts at Trader Joe’s).
Puree roasted peppers with pine nuts in a Cuisinart and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package.
Saute onion and garlic in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta.
Pour in puree and stir together.
Add LOTS of kosher salt.
Pour in cream.
*the addition of Parmesan to the sauce is really good but not necessary.
Toss pasta into the sauce.
Serve with shaved Parmesan and top with parsley.


A Favorite Staple

October 2, 2010

Homemade roasted red peppers find their way into many dishes in my kitchen- sandwiches, pasta, pizzas and salads. Unlike raw red peppers that are spicy and (might I be bold) not very good, roasted red peppers are sweet, soft and full of flavor. The roasting process is easy and you can store the roasted peppers in the fridge for a week or more.


Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Place whole red peppers on a baking sheet.
Don’t oil them!
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until charred and wrinkled.
Turn twice during the roasting.
Remove from the oven and immediately wrap in foil.
(this creates a steam room that will allow you to easily remove the skin)
Wait about 30 minutes until they are cooled enough to handle.
Remove charred skins.
Store in the refrigerator with olive oil or use immediately.

Place red peppers (dry) on a sheet pan and bake at 500 degrees. Turn every ten minutes or so…
Once charred, remove from pan and place on a piece of foil.
Wrap into a foil package to create a steam bath. Let steam for 30-ish minutes. Open package and peel off the charred skin.
Place roasted red pepper meat (without the skin) in a container. Salvage any of the juices you can.
For marinated roasted red peppers- add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use on a sandwich, in a pasta or topped on a salad.


Preserved Pesto

August 23, 2010

Summer is coming to an end soon, and I will miss the abundance of it’s seasonal vegetables- sweet basil, homegrown tomatoes, crisp corn, squashes, cucumbers ….on and on. If you find any of these items on sale at the store or taking over your garden, preserve them! This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pickle and can the summer veggies. I like to make batches of basil pesto to store in our freezer. There is nothing better than a meal reminiscent of summer in the middle of January.

Stay tuned for more preservation recipes such as tomato sauce, jam and pickles.

makes 4 cups

You will need:
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
9 cloves garlic, blanched
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup parmigianoreggiano cheese, freshly grated*
To blanch the garlic:
Cover garlic in a saucepan with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat then immediately drain. Let garlic cool to room temperature. I think this is the key to good pesto!
*Try grating the cheese in the processor before you start the pesto. Take it out while you make the recipe.
Process walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor for 30 seconds.
Add basil leaves, salt and pepper.
Slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube while the processor is running.
Puree until the pesto is smooth.
Add the parmigianoreggiano and puree for 1 minute more.
Pour in a portion size (1 cup) freezer container.

Coat with a thin film of olive oil.
Freeze until you crave fresh pesto on a cold winter day.
This is the base for the pesto in Pesto, asta and Peas.


Weeknight Pasta Supper

June 2, 2010

I could make and eat pasta every night. Pasta dishes are most always easy, adaptable to the seasons and a great staple to pair with all kinds of veggies. My friends Leigh shared this recipe she discovered on the “Pioneer Woman” blog. The rich tomato sauce and spinach created a perfect pasta meal for a stormy summer night.

Pasta with Tomato-Blue Cheese Sauce

You will need:

1 pound angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 whole 28-ounce can diced* tomatoes, drained
dash of sugar
salt and fresh pepper to taste
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
3/4 cups blue cheese
1/2-3/4 cup half & half*
4 cups baby spinach

*I used crushed tomatoes and it tasted wonderful
*The original recipe called for 3/4 cup heavy cream and half & half. I used about 1/2 cup of half & half only, and the creaminess was ample.

Cook pasta according to package.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add minced garlic when hot- be careful not to burn.
Pour in tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to lowest temp.
Stir in blue cheese.
Add half & half or heavy cream to your liking.

Taste for seasonings.
Turn off heat.
Toss in spinach just before serving.

Fold in drained pasta and serve.


Bridal Shower Supper

April 25, 2010

Wedding season is in full swing! I made this pasta for my friend Emily’s shower last week and it was a hit. It is hearty while still being fresh and feminine. The best part is that it can be made a day in advance so it’s great for parties. I tripled this recipe and had plenty for 25 girls.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo
(serves 6)
You will need:
3/4 pound orzo
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and medium diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
3/4 pound good feta, large diced

kosher salt and fresh pepper

olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.
Cook orzo according to package (9 minutes) or
(Boil water, add kosher salt, bring back to a boil, add pasta and cook for 9 minutes)
Drain and pour into a large bowl.
Whisk together lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper.
Pour over hot pasta and stir well.

Place shrimp on a baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with s&p.
Toss to combine.
Roast 6-8 minutes- don’t overcook!

Add shrimp, dill, scallions, parsley, cucumber, onion, s&p to marinated orzo.
Toss well.
Add the feta and stir carefully.
Set aside at room temp for an hour or refrigerate overnight*.

*If refrigerated, taste for seasonings again. I some times reserve a little dressing to add fresh before serving.


Camellias and Risotto

March 24, 2010

There is no better gift to receive on the first day of spring than a palette of handpicked camellias. My lunch guests on Saturday left us with this beautiful assortment from their garden.

With an amazing centerpiece already on the table, I had to make a homemade supper. Salmon on the grill, crispy oven new potatoes and asparagus risotto kept us from having to grocery shop on such a nice day.

Risotto with White Wine and Asparagus

You will need:
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Arborio rice
1-2 cups asparagus, cut into bits
1/2 dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 ish freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring broth and water to barely a simmer in a saucepan.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven.
Add onion, garlic and salt.
Saute until onion is soft- about 8 minutes. Don’t brown onions!
Cut asparagus into small bits and add to simmering liquid.
Stir rice into onion saute pan and cook, stirring until rice is hot- about 2 minutes.
Add wine and simmer, stirring until wine is absorbed.
Add broth one cup at a time, stir often.
Add more broth only when previous batch has absorbed.
Asparagus bits will gradually get added to rice pot.
Adjust heat to maintain a simmer.
This should take about 20 minutes for creaminess.
You may not use all the liquid or you may need to add more water.

A note on vegetables- This risotto is great with any green veggies. I would have added some frozen baby peas and herbs if I had on hand. A squeeze of lemon always brightens up vegetable risotto.

And if you have a sweet tooth…..

Spread vanilla bean ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies. YUM.